Head coach Alan Solomons will start five of his new Edinburgh Rugby recruits in the club's first pre-season match against Leicester Tigers at The Greenyards tomorrow (23 August, kick-off 2pm).
Edinburgh Rugby team v Leicester Tigers
The Greenyards tomorrow (Sat 23 August, KO 2pm)
15 Nick McLennan
14 Dougie Fife
13 Chris Dean
12 Andries Strauss
11 Tim Visser
10 Greig Tonks
9 Sean Kennedy
1 Rory Sutherland
2 Ross Ford CAPTAIN
3 John Andress
4 Fraser McKenzie
5 Ollie Atkins
6 Roddy Grant
7 Hamish Watson
8 Cornell Du Preez
16 James Hilterbrand
17 Simon Berghan
18 Ben Toolis
19 Alex Toolis
20 Jamie Ritchie
21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne
22 Tom Heathcote
23 Sam Beard
24 Joaquin Dominguez
25 Brett Thompson
26 Damien Hoyland
27 Carl Bezuidenhout
With the exclusion of lock Fraser McKenzie [left] – who returns from Newcastle Falcons to start the game alongside Ollie Atkins – four of the five signings will make their debut for the capital club.
The quartet are split equally between the backs and forwards, with 20 year-old outside-centre Chris Dean making his first appearance in the black and red, alongside experienced South African Andries Strauss, having come through the Scotland age-grade ranks while at Edinburgh Academy and Edinburgh Accies.
He'll be joined in the back division by New Zealand-born full-back Nick McLennan – a summer signing from ITM Cup side, Hawke's Bay – who is available for the Scotland national team by virtue of his grandmother, Jean, from Balmoral, and his grandfather, Alexander McLennan, who was from Dunblane and served with the Gordon Highlanders.
In the pack Solomons has also handed first starts to front-row forwards Rory Sutherland [right] – the explosive 21 year-old loosehead from Hawick who joined as an elite development player from Gala RFC – and experienced Irish tight-head John Andress, a summer signing from Worcester Warriors.
They will start the match either side of Scotland's most capped hooker, Ross Ford, who has been handed the captaincy, with Solomons waiting until the end of pre-season to name his on-field general for the coming campaign.
Edinburgh Rugby head coach Alan Solomons said: "This game is all about giving every available player some game time but I think it is also an opportunity to blend youth and experience where appropriate.
"That is what we've said before; that our vision is to build a club through the medium of our young indigenous players, but to allow them to come into a team that is successful and has a measure of experience.
Experienced players guide and advise them on the pitch and that's invaluable to their development.”
Sean Kennedy has been handed the season's first opportunity to stake a claim for the number nine shirt, in what promises to be one of the most competitive positions in the squad.
Stay seated for the best of the domestic game!
Edinburgh Rugby and Leicester Tigers fans are invited to stay seated in the Greenyards to watch the completion of tomorrow's double-header, which will see two of Scotland's best domestic club sides – League winners Melrose and Cup winners Heriot's – go head-to-head in the inaugural BT Charity Shield (kick-off 5pm).
The match is free to attend so please stay on to enjoy a showcase of the best of Scotland's domestic club game.
Kennedy will partner stand-off Greig Tonks, who makes his first appearance since injuring his shoulder playing for Scotland A in February, while wingers Tim Visser and Dougie Fife finish the back-three.
The starting side is completed by a back-row of number 8 Cornell Du Preez, blindside back-row Roddy Grant, and 22 year-old open-side Hamish Watson.
A further four players could also make their first appearance from an extended bench, this includes Scotland stand-off Tom Heathcote, USA Eagles wing Brett Thompson, 18 year-old back-row Jamie Ritchie, and 20 year-old former Melrose wing Damien Hoyland.
Solomons added: "It's going to be a massive challenge because we are going to play a top-flight team, which I think will be a great test for our players.
Everyone who is fit will get an opportunity, and what a great way for them to be tested against first class opposition like Leicester Tigers.”
The match is the club's first of two pre-season clashes against English opposition to be held in the Scottish Borders, with Hawick RFC hosting the club's fixture against Newcastle Falcons the following Friday (29 August, kick-off 7.45pm) at Mansfield Park before the season starts in earnest.